Sir Francis Drake, the daring English pirate, was the first European to sail the stormy North Pacific. ln 1579, after having raided the Spanish settlements of South America, he sought to escape up the coast through an inland waterway that would return his ship, the Golden Hind, to the Atlantic Ocean.
Read alsoMountain Men
Born into every generation are a few restless souls who long for adventure. In the early 1800s this wild breed became mountain men who headed up the Missouri, crossed the Rock-ies and continued west, hunting, trapping and exploring as they went.One mountainman,reflecting the general attitude of the day, wrote, 'We found the richest place for…
In his wake came other explorers. They soon concluded a Northwest Passage did not exist and turned their attention to exloiting the natural resources of the region. Trade was initiated with the natives, trinkets for sea otter fur. The fur was transported to China where riches beyond the wildest dreams awaited the adventuresome sailors. Within a decade the sea otter played out and mountain men pushed inland, trading and trapping beaver. The great companies, Hudson's Bay, North West and Pacific Fur fought for the rich spoils.
The discovery of gold in California signaled the start of a era. Miners flooded to the Sierra Nevada mountains. Eventually they became disillusioned with the diggings and drifted north, discovering veins of gold in rock and placer pockets in creek bottoms and even on ocean beaches. Following the miners came a wave of pioneers who settled interior valleys, laid claim to the land and plowed the virgin soil. A few hardy souls pushed over the last mountain range, going as far west as land allowed. They were rugged individualists who ever after were isolated by the deep woods on one side and the wide Pacific on the other.